Stoney Point - Betty's Bay - African Penguin Sanctuary
The red book endangered African or Jackass penguin breeds only at three locations on the African continent : Boulders, near Simonstown; Stoney point at Betty’s Bay and Cape Cross, Namibia. Of these only the breeding colony at Betty’s Bay is growing in numbers. According to Mr. Marcello October, working at the site, it is due to the accessibility to their food source: Pelagic fish, it is pilchards, sardines and anchovies. Of this an adult bird needs 600gram per day and swims some 60km to forage.
The African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is commonly known as the Jackass penguin, because their call is similar to that of a braying donkey. The first nests at Stoney Point was discovered in 1982. In 1988 the then small colony had a bad setback when the famed Betty’s Bay leopard destroyed a large proportion of the population. Since then the colony has been protected and the facilities at the breeding site is enhanced on an ongoing basis.
Moulting takes place in November or December and lasts one month. During this time they do not venture out to sea to feed, as they built up fat reserves in the preceding time. Penguins form lifelong breeding pairs. The breeding season lasts from February to October, with clutches of two eggs laid per pair. Incubation lasts from 38 to 41 days, and both parents feed the chicks until they are fully fledged. Under good conditions two broods can be produced in one season.
The African penguin is one of 18 species of penguins – the only one to breed in Africa. It weighs between 3,1 and 3,6kg with an average height of 50cm. The sexes are similar in appearance. There are more than 1000 breeding pairs at Stoney Point, with roughly 5000 birds in total. They share Stoney Point with Dassies (Rock Hyrax), Bank cormorants, White breasted cormorants, Cape cormorants, Crowned cormorants, kelp gull and the odd Egyptian goose.
Stoney Point, where the historic remnants of an old whaling station can still be seen, is a “must see” for the visitor to Betty’s Bay and the mere R10.00 admission gives access to an excellent facility, informative and easily accessed on a well planned wooden walk.
Author: Chris Goosen